This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a Mervin Finger Wave Clip.
One reader gave his guess as to the identity of the artifact. Bob Klucas wrote in an email: “The item in the 3/12 issue is a “hair wave tool”, just press the lever, put it in your hair and release and the tool holds the wave until set, then remove the tool.”
Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “Mervin Finger Wave Clip
This torturous looking device is a 1930’s Mervin Finger Wave clip. Just 6” long and 1” wide, the spring loaded arms had teeth that molded hair into the popular waves of that era. Finger waves were the height of style, a fashion started by the starlets of the 20’s and perfected in salons using the electric Marcel iron (similar to a curling iron used upside down). Mervin clips were made of aluminum, inexpensive and could be used at home. Damped hair or hair slicked with styling gel was combed through the clips and held tightly in place until dry. When the clips were removed swooping “S” waves swirled over the head.
During the depression working people didn’t have much discretionary money to splurge on salon care. The image of sophisticated elegance gave the illusion of carefree prosperity while reality was the opposite. The close fitting, boyish bob of the 20’s no longer fit the image and around 1932 full, lush, deep all over waves created a sexy, casual look. The waves ran vertically, horizontally or diagonally all over the head ending in small curls along the neckline. While the clips held hair in place to dry in the fashionable waves, pin curls were twisted around the finger then secured with small hair pins. Every hair was kept in place: styling gels, pins and hair nets were employed to keep that casual look.